Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Date Change

From the DW:
"Anne Frank died earlier than thought, researchers say"

Jewish teenager Anne Frank died in a Nazi concentration camp at least a month earlier than her official date of death, researchers have said. The new study traces traces the final years of Anne and her sister, Margot.  Anne Frank died in a Nazi concentration camp a month earlier than than previously thought, researchers announced on Tuesday - the 70th anniversary of the officially recognized date of her death. The Jewish teenager likely died, aged 15, at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February 1945, said the Amsterdam museum that honors her memory. "New research...has shed fresh light on the last days of Anne Frank and her sister Margot," the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam said on Tuesday, until now her official date of death.  "Their deaths must have occurred in February 1945," the museum said in a statement. The Red Cross noted that the deaths of Anne and Margot in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany were between 1 and 31 March. Dutch officials then officially set the date at March 31. Anne's diary about hiding from the Nazi's during the occupation of the Netherlands was published after World War II, becoming an international bestseller and making her an enduring symbol of Holocaust victims. The new date changes little about the tragic lives of Anne and her sister Margot. "It was horrible. It was terrible. And it still is," said Erika Prins, a researcher at the Anne Frank House museum. But, she added, the new date lays to rest the idea the sisters could have been rescued if they had lived just a little longer.
"When you say they died at the end of March, it gives you a feeling that they died just before liberation. So maybe if they'd lived two more weeks..." Prins said, her voice trailing off. "Well, that's not true anymore." Anne and her family went into hiding in 1942 from the Nazis in a secret annex at the back of an Amsterdam canal house, owned by her father Otto Frank's company, until they were betrayed in 1944 and sent to Germany. The girls were moved from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to Bergen-Belsen in November 1944, as the Russian army closed in from the east. Researchers used Red Cross archives, the International Tracing Service and the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, together "with as many eyewitness testimonies and survivors as possible." Four Bergen-Belsen survivors reported the sisters showed signs of typhus in late January 1945. "Most deaths of typhus occur around 12 days after the first systems appeared," the new study said, quoting the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. "It is therefore unlikely that they survived until the end of March," the Anne Frank House said. While Anne and Margot's date of death remains unknown, one surviving witness, Rachel van Amerongen said, "one day they simply weren't there anymore."

^ It doesn't matter when Anne Frank died. She is still a symbol of the millions of innocent men, women  and children that the Germans murdered during the Holocaust. She was not only in hiding, but also in the Westerbork transit camp, the Auschwitz death camp and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and so went through most of the horrors of the Holocaust in her short 15 years.
Her story doesn't change because she is now thought to have died a month earlier. This is the 70th anniversary of her death and the end of World War 2 and we need to focus on what she stood/stands for. ^


Serbian's View

From Yahoo:
"Gay, disabled journalist's 'personal view' new in Serbia"
Nenad Mihailovic flouts Serbian taboo. He's openly gay in a notoriously macho culture. He uses a wheelchair in a society that shows little sympathy for the disabled. And he's a voice of liberal thinking in a nation where strong leaders have a tendency to quash dissent. So it's perhaps surprising that Mihailovic has attracted tens of thousands of viewers to his independent talk show — in which he grills politicians, actors, pop stars and activists on such hot-button themes as gay adoption, same-sex marriages, government corruption and relations with Russia. The program, filmed in his living room and broadcast on YouTube and local TV networks, has struck a chord in Serbia because many ordinary people feel increasingly starved of independent information and analysis, as the right-leaning government of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic seeks to sideline journalists who criticize his rule. Mihailovic launched his unusual program out of revulsion over what he describes as overwhelming pro-government propaganda in Serbia's mainstream media. He turned his home into a TV studio in order to "ask the questions no one else would. Filmed by a small camera operated by his partner, Mihailovic has so far conducted around 20 interviews with public figures and celebrities in the "hot chair." They tackle issues ranging from politics and the economy, to gay rights, euthanasia, abortion and faith.  Since launching in mid-December, Mihailovic has won praise from liberals and threats of violence from right-wing viewers. The show follows a wider trend of news-hungry audiences turning online amid reports of official censorship in the main newspapers and television stations. "There is no longer anything to hear on any of the television networks," Mihailovic told The Associated Press. "To say that the government is stifling the media would be putting things mildly." 
Late last year, Nenad Mihailovic welcomed his first guest — popular Serbian actor Nikola Djuricko. Mihailovic, wearing a tuxedo and bow tie for the occasion, asked the actor to sit in a wheelchair like him: "So, is it comfortable?" Mihailovic asked. "Oh yes, seems it's a new model," Djuricko answered with good humor. Several shows on, he invited right-wing activist Vladan Glisic to the program, grilling him on same-sex marriage and gay child adoption. When Glisic blasted the West and urged closer ties with Moscow, Mihailovic asked him if he was driving a Western-made car. Since then, a string of politicians has appeared on the show to face Mihailovic's relentless questioning about corruption scandals. They seem to feel it shows the Serbian people that they aren't afraid of being in the line of fire. But Mihailovic said some of them do complain later: "You pushed too hard." Like many in Serbia, Mihailovic accuses Vucic, who won a sweeping election victory last year by promising Western-style reform, of carrying out a media clampdown in the style of the late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic. Vucic vehemently denies that his government has exerted political and economic pressure on the media. But critics have cited several incidents of alleged muzzling, such as the detention of three men for online posts criticizing the government's handling of disastrous flooding. A leading political TV host has accused Vucic of personally orchestrating the removal of her talk show from the commercial B92 television network — once a beacon of Serbia's independent journalism under Milosevic.   Draza Petrovic, a journalist at the liberal Danas daily, said authorities have been using the mainstream media to push their own agenda and sideline opponents. Petrovic appeared on "Personal View" weeks ago: "Those were the best questions I have ever heard from a TV interviewer, and I have met quite a few," she said. "I had to think hard before answering." Opposition politician Goran Jesic also appeared on the program. He said he wanted to show support for Mihailovic and for online journalism — which he described as the only forum for opposition views. "Of course there is censorship in Serbia," Jesic said. "It's worse than during Milosevic." Depending on the guest, Mihailovic's interviews have attracted from several hundred to nearly 30,000 viewers online. The show also airs on two local television stations in central Serbia. It is ignored by national networks. Mihailovic suffers from amyotrophia spinalis progressiva II, or SMA II, a progressive nervous system disease that wastes the muscles. A life-time wheelchair user, Mihailovic, 44, could never live without help. In his youth, Mihailovic could still move his hands, and his body looked "as if I would jump up and start to walk any second." As the illness progressed, Mihailovic's body became deformed and he lost almost all ability to move. Still, Mihailovic says he has always lived as actively as possible, fighting passionately for minority rights in Serbia. He heads an association of disabled gays, and ran at an opposition list in last year's municipal election in Belgrade. He didn't make it into the city assembly. Journalists should break the "barrier of fear," he said: "If I, in my condition, can do the job, why can't the others who are healthy?" And in adversity, Mihailovic can still joke about being doubly stigmatized in Serbia for being gay and disabled. "I am double-trouble," he said, a twinkle in his eye.
 ^  It seems that social media (ie Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc) have allowed more people to express themselves than ever before in history. Many people simply "waste" that with dumb selfies or telling us what they had for dinner (I have to admit I have done the latter every now and then.) Then there are people like Nenad Mihailovic who use social media to help bring change. I haven't watched his shows and if I did I wouldn't understand them as I'm sure they are only in Serbian, but with his large numbers of viewers it seems there are many people in Serbia that agree with him and what he has to say. As long as he and others do not advocate violence then I see no issue with these kinds of messages. ^


Lufthansa Guilt

From the DW:
"Germanwings co-pilot told Lufthansa flight school of 'serious depressive episode'"

Andreas Lubitz told his flight school in 2009 about previous mental health issues, Lufthansa has said. Clues about his mental health are being searched for as investigators probe the Germanwings crash. Amid media speculation about Lufthansa's psychological screening of its pilots, the German airline released a statement on Tuesday about what was known of Lubitz's mental health during his time in flight school. Audio recorded by the first black box has led investigators to believe that Lubitz purposely flew the A320 into a mountainside last Tuesday, killing himself and the 149 others on board. The case has fueled media speculation about Lubitz's mental health and airline safety. "In this correspondence, he informed the Flight Training Pilot School in 2009... about a 'previous episode of severe depression'," Lufthansa said, adding that it had submitted the evidence to investigators. Lufthansa prides itself for its rigorous testing of its pilots - which it calls "the best in the world" - and had previously confirmed that the co-pilot had been "100% fit to fly" on the day of the airline disaster. It has also previously confirmed that he had passed all of his flight school tests despite having taken a break from the program for several months. In the days since the crash, information from prosecutors and people who knew Lubitz have trickled in, pointing to issues with mental health, but ultimately providing inconclusive evidence about his state of mind on March 24, when the A320 flew into the side of a mountain near Seyne-les-Alpes en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. German prosecutors said on Monday that Lubitz had received psychotherapy treatment for suicidal tendencies before becoming a pilot. However, chief prosecutor Ralf Herrenbürck emphasized that Lubitz had not shown signs of suicidal behavior or of aggression since then. France's aviation investigators, known as BEA, said on Tuesday, that its agency would probe both psychological profiling and cockpit doors. The pilot on board the Germanwings flight was reportedly unable to open the security door, despite entering an emergency code reserved for flight personnel. "The Safety Investigation will be oriented towards the cockpit door locking system logic and cockpit access and exit procedures, as well as the criteria and procedures applied to detect specific psychological profiles," BEA said in a statement.

^ It's no wonder that Lufthansa/Germanwings was so quick to offer the victims' families an extra 50,000 Euros onto of anything they are legally required to do. It is basic "hush money" to keep the families from suing Lufthansa for more because Lufthansa knew the co-pilot had depression
in the past and yet let him continue to fly. That makes Lufthansa/Germanwings just as guilty for the 150 murders as the co-pilot. They knew and yet did nothing to stop it and so put every passenger that uses their airline at risk. I hope there is a thorough investigation into all of Lufthansa/Germanwings pilots, co-pilots and flight crew to see if there are others that are depressed or have health issues that should ground them for the safety of everyone. Had Lufthansa/Germanwings done the correct thing (not necessarily the legal thing) then 150 innocent people would still be alive today. I guess they were too busy dealing with their airline strikes then keeping people safe and alive. ^


Tikrit Freed

From Yahoo:
"Iraq PM says Tikrit 'liberated' after month-long battle"
Iraq said security and allied forces backed by US-led coalition aircraft "liberated" the city of Tikrit on Tuesday, its biggest victory yet in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The operation to retake the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein began on March 2 and had looked bogged down before Iraqi forces made rapid advances over the past 48 hours. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi "announces the liberation of Tikrit and congratulates Iraqi security forces and popular volunteers on the historic milestone," his official Twitter account said. He was referring to paramilitary groups which played a major role in the fighting to retake Tikrit, a Sunni Arab city which IS had controlled since it captured swathes of Iraq in June. Iraqiya state television showed footage of houses previously used by IS in liberated areas but it was not clear whether any pockets of resistance remained. The provincial government headquarters was retaken on Monday and on Tuesday the Iraqi tricolour replaced the black IS flag on the building. In a statement to AFP just minutes before Abadi's tweet, his spokesman Rafid Jaboori said: "Iraqi forces reached the centre of Tikrit, raised the Iraqi flag and are now clearing the city." Tikrit holds both strategic and symbolic importance. It was the hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, remnants of whose Baath party collaborated with IS last summer. Iraqi forces had since June tried and failed several times to retake the city, seen as a key stepping stone to recapturing Mosul, the jihadists' largest hub in Iraq.
^ It is surprising that the Iraqi military did this. I remember how ineffective they were in the First Iraq War, the Second Iraq War and after the US withdrew. It seems they got help from Iran which isn't good for us, but since the US and the other coalition forces think we can stop ISIS by merely bombing them I guess it was the only choice Iraq had. I think the bombings help to slow ISIS down, but they won't get defeated without wiping them out from the ground. That was clear with the Kurdish forces fighting them in Kolbani and now with the Iraqis in Tikrit. ^


Vets' Sports

From Fox News:
"For disabled vets, playing team sports boosts quality of life"

Wheelchair basketball and other adaptive sports could help disabled veterans boost their self-esteem and lead healthier lives, early research suggests. “Adaptive” sports have been modified to accommodate people with disabilities. While the study doesn’t prove the benefits of adaptive sports for disabled veterans, the researchers say they found a strong association between this special form of recreation and happier and healthier individuals. “A number of patients have told me even after going through rehabilitation and even after being able to accomplish activities of daily living . . . they never truly felt like themselves until they participated in adaptive sports,” said Justin Laferrier, the study’s lead author and a U.S. Army veteran. The number of disabled U.S. veterans has more than doubled since 2001 to 5.5 million because of the many wounded service members from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the authors note. Laferrier, now at the University of Connecticut, formerly led amputee physical therapy at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland and at the Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He and his team write in American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation that wheelchair sports date back to shortly after World War II, when neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized the first games at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, England. To test the effect of adaptive sports, 220 disabled veterans were recruited in 2009 and 2010 from the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, U.S. Olympic Committee Warrior Games and National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic. Activities included sled hockey, archery, swimming and wheelchair basketball. Researchers looked at participation in individual sports, team sports or a combination of the two. They used various self-esteem and quality of life scales, noting physical and psychological health, social relationships and environment. The veterans had spinal cord injuries, posttraumatic stress disorder and upper or lower limb amputations, but also chronic diseases like arthritis, digestive problems, heart trouble and diabetes. The more the veterans participated in the sports after they were injured, the significantly better their quality of life. The more years they participated, the higher their self-esteem climbed, too. Those with more than 10 years of participation since their injury scored 27 on a self-esteem scale (with the highest rate being 30), compared to veterans with one to five years, who scored 23. Veterans who participated mainly in individual sports and recreation had much lower self-esteem scores at 22, whereas those who did team events or a combination of team and individual events scored higher at 25.
^ I have worked with the disabled (unfortunately not veterans) and have seen firsthand that when they are given the same opportunities to participate in anything that the non-disabled do it usually makes them feel good about themselves. I have played adaptive sports and they aren't that different than regular sports. I am not a jock or that into sports myself, but it is great to see those that are (whether disabled or not) get to play and enjoy themselves. There are around 5.5 million disabled military veterans in the US and everyone (from the President to Congress to the regular person on the street) needs to do more to show our appreciation for them getting wounded while protecting us. That appreciation should also be given to non-disabled vets as well. It is slowly becoming a cliché around the country to thank a soldier for their service the same way we ask a co-worker how their weekend was (as we are walking away from them.) It is seen as the polite thing to do and so we do it rather than doing it because it is the right thing to do. ^


Royally Good

From the BBC:
"Dutch royal family to return Nazi looted art"

The Dutch royal family has said it will return a painting from its collection thought to have been looted by the Nazis during World War Two.  The painting, by Joris van der Haagen, had been bought by Queen Juliana from a Dutch art dealer in 1960.  The palace said an investigation looked at tens of thousands of art works in the House of Orange's collection.  Officials have contacted the heirs of the original owner, who was not named, to arrange its return. "A Jewish collector was forced in 1942 to hand over the painting Haagse Bos with view over Huis Ten Bosch Palace by Joris van der Haagen to the (Nazi) bank Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co in Amsterdam," said the report, which was commissioned by the palace in 2012. It said after the war and the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands "the painting ended up with a Dutch art dealer where queen Juliana bought it in 1960 without knowing about its history." No further details were given, due to privacy concerns. The inquiry ruled that another painting in the collection, Landscape with St Hubert, whose provenance had been questioned, was not stolen.
^ The fact that the palace itself started the investigation and is now going to give up one of their legally acquired paintings shows just how the great the Dutch Royal Family is. Survivors and their families have often had to fight decades to have the chance of getting their stolen property back and that is just plain wrong. If a thief comes into your house and takes your TV and the police find that TV then they give it back. Its the same principle here. If the Nazis or their collaborators took any of your property (ie a paining, house, etc) and there's evidence that shows true ownership then it is only legal for that item to be returned to the person it was taken to or their descendants. There are many instances (throughout Europe) of people coming back from concentration camps, death camps, ghettos, labor camps, etc only to not be legally allowed to reclaim their house, apartment, personal items, etc. That makes the local authorities just as guilty as what the Nazis did. That happened to people in the Netherlands too and its good to see that things have changed in Dutch society and the true sign of that change is the Royal Family aiding in this. There is still a huge fight going on around Europe and the rest of the world with the majority of people (especially the Swiss) fighting tooth-and-nail to not give back items that are known to have been stolen by the Nazis and that is a sad point to acknowledge with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 this year. ^


Monday, March 30, 2015

State Stereotypes

From Yahoo:
"The Worst Stereotypes About Every U.S. State"
We’ve all heard them, and we’ve all done it. Even the most politically correct among us has thought at least one of the stereotypes on this list.  Not all stereotypes are necessarily bad. They’re really just generalizations about a group of people based on assumed shared qualities or behaviors.  Some of the most prevalent stereotypes come up when people talk about the 50 states. Whether you ask a foreigner, or even another American, everyone has an opinion about the kinds of people who populate each of the states. As travelers, stereotypes can sometimes be helpful, but more often than not, they’re a hindrance to really getting to know the locals. Still, they’re good to know, at the very least so that you can avoid making a serious faux pas next time you land somewhere new and completely foreign to you. We polled experts, Yahoo Travel readers and residents about each state in our great nation to find out the worst misconception that the natives want you to know just isn’t true.
Alabama: Stereotype: They care about football, football, football… and NASCAR. Life revolves around one or the other.
Alaska: Stereotype: Many residents are simply burly, ice-fishing fur-wearers who club seals for sport.

Arizona: Stereotype: It’s filled with senior citizens who carry their own hot sauce everywhere and claim that finding a parking spot in the shade is more important than the birth of their first child.

Arkansas: Stereotype: “One of the most common misperceptions of Arkansas is that everyone who lives here is a “hillbilly,”

California:  Stereotype: The state is filled with beach bums, bodybuilders, activists, and movie stars. “Everyone thinks we’re all a bunch of laid-back, easy-going surfers.
Colorado: Stereotype: Everyone is a stoner who loves to ski.

Connecticut: Stereotype: This state is made up of the country-club-loving, pastel-wearing, helicopter-flying part of the 1 percent.

Delaware: Stereotype: People travel here from other places just to shop and avoid paying taxes. That’s it.

Florida: Stereotype: Its population is basically made up of retirees, beach bums, and gator hunters.
Georgia: Stereotype: It’s overflowing with sweet Southern blond women and the kind of gentlemen who you’d want to bring home to mama. 

Hawaii: Stereotype: Everyone surfs — and that’s it. Also, the locals hate the mainlanders, with a passion. 

Idaho: Stereotype: Everyone is a potato farmer.

Illinois: Stereotype: Everyone talks like Mike Ditka and loves da Bears.
Indiana: Stereotype: People here think a tractor is the only necessary form of transport. 

Iowa: Stereotype: This state is all about corn farmers and a caucus once every four years.

Kentucky: Stereotype: “Of course there are a lot of people who think we are rowdy, inbred hillbillies, blue-collar workers who don’t wear shoes, who live to fish and hunt. People think we are a decade behind regular social (and fashion) movements.
Kansas: Stereotype: “People always assume I live on a farm, am super-religious or racist, and own a gun. I also regularly get asked if I have ever been in a tornado.

Louisiana: Stereotype: Everyone is into voodoo, and it’s home to gumbo-loving partiers who treat every day like Mardi Gras. 
Maine: Stereotype: Residents of Maine are seafood snobs who mostly wear plaid and can’t pronounce the letter “R” properly.

Maryland: Stereotype: “Marylanders are known for their obsession with education and politics, at least where I grew up.

Massachusetts: Stereotype: “We are self-titled Mass-holes,” says Massachusetts native Melissa Rappaport. “And most people judge the accent. Even if you are from here, it sounds terrible. But we are the most hardcore sports fans. Just don’t mention the Yankees.”

Michigan: Stereotype: Their hate for Ohio far outweighs their love of anything else. 

Minnesota: Stereotype: Minnesotans love Prince and the movie Fargo.

Mississippi: Stereotype: Mississippi businessman Rick Looser actually funded an ad campaign to try to dispel stereotypes about his home state after being asked on a plane if he “sees those Ku Klux Klan people on the streets every day.” 
Missouri: Stereotype: “Stereotypes I have heard about people from Missouri include the fact they are the kind to shoot first, ask questions later. Own camo furniture and a ‘good’ baseball cap for church.
Montana: Stereotype: Hunting season is more important than Christmas to Montanans, they ride horses to school, and they are total badasses. The badass bit is true.

Nebraska: Stereotype: It’s full of call-center workers who love corn and corn-fed steaks and everyone lives on a farm. 

Nevada: Stereotype: Everyone works in a casino as a cocktail waitress or an Elvis impersonator. And they all have gambling problems. 

New Hampshire: Stereotype: The people here are overtly happy, religion-shunning vegetable growers, whose No. 1 topic of conversation is taxes.

New Jersey: Stereotype: This is the home of the spray tan, the back-combed bouffant, the “Shore,” and steroid abuse.

New Mexico: Stereotype: This is the state where meth is made and where everyone has been abducted by aliens. 
New York: Stereotype: “New Yorkers are rude!” 

North Carolina: Stereotype: North Carolinians will fight you over the best way to make barbecue, and their tea is never sweet enough.
North Dakota Stereotype: “People think that we all speak with a German/Scandinavian accent like in the movie and TV series Fargo,”

Ohio: Stereotype: All Ohioans actually wish they lived somewhere else. Anywhere else. Especially during an election.  

Oklahoma: Stereotype: The home of the deep-fat fryer — where people will fry everything from fish to rattlesnake, and everyone is overweight.

Oregon: Stereotype: This is the land of overly polite drivers of Priuses who live in communes.

Pennsylvania: Stereotype: “Everyone thinks we are blue-collar, Rocky-loving, loudmouths who will fight you if you dare say anything negative about the Eagles or cheesesteaks,”

Rhode Island: Stereotype: The state where everyone is all up in each other’s business. And they all sound like Peter Griffin from Family Guy

South Dakota: Stereotype: People here are simple-minded and easily entertained.
South Carolina: Stereotype: Fireball shots for breakfast and cigarettes for lunch? “ 

Tennessee: Stereotype: “Stereotypes about Tennessee are all kinds of country. People think we all wear cowboy boots, jean shorts, and graphic T-shirts with Garth Brooks’s face on it. Our drinks of choice are fireball, more fireball, and cheap beer, and we eat fried chicken, hot chicken, and rotisserie chicken.

Texas: Stereotype: “That everyone in Texas wears cowboy boots and rides horses,” 
Utah: Stereotype: This is the center of the Mormon universe, where it is OK to cheat on your wife with your other wife.
Vermont: Stereotype: In this state, it’s legal to inject maple syrup into your bloodstream, or should be. And everyone talks funny — about cows mostly.

Virginia: Stereotype: There are the people who live in D.C., and then there is everyone else. The “everyone else” loves to hunt. Those from D.C. are snobby. West Virginians are also huge fans of Civil War re-enactments, and they hate to be compared to, or mistaken for, their Western neighbors.

Washington: Stereotype: People who live here clearly love rain and trees and Big Foot.

West Virginia: Stereotype: Most people think Deliverance was filmed here. The state has long had a reputation of inbreeding, which isn’t helped by several suggestive Hollywood movies and documentaries.

Wisconsin: Stereotype: “Someone once asked me if we get fat in the winter to stay warm. And people think that all we do is drink beer and eat cheese. Well that is probably true in some cases.

Wyoming: Stereotype: The people here are all right-wing horse lovers who hate anyone and anything that comes from Colorado.
^ This was a fun read. The states marked in red are the ones that I have heard about. I have lived in New York and that stereotype is only true in New York City and not the majority of Upstate. I also lived in Virginia and that stereotype is spot-on. The real native Virginians think the Civil War is still going on (the capital of the Confederacy was in VA) and so the majority of native Virginians I personally encountered hated us "northern Yankees" and tried to their best to let us know at every turn. ^

Egypt: Beyond Borders

I previously wrote about this TV show "Beyond Borders" and commented on their Israel and Northern Ireland episodes (mostly on the latter.) This week they went to Egypt and I think they did a really good job of bringing all the sides together. They had 2 Youth Group members, a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and a supporter of the current military regime. Those are really the main groups involved in Egypt today. The crew also had to deal with the Egyptian military, secret police and regular police throughout their stay. I don't know a whole lot about recent Egyptian history especially within the past 4 years but did pay attention to what the Muslim Brotherhood had to say with regards to its relationship with Israel and the rest of the world. I was glad when the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was removed from power - the last thing the world needs are more Islamist extremists in power. It was interesting to hear the supporter of the current military regime state that no Arab can live in a democracy  - they always need a strong leader. There are certain other groups of people that have also wanted/needed a strong leader  - ie Russia and the Germans. Getting back to Egypt. It seems that Egypt is trying to self-isolate itself from the world. It has had a strong tourism industry which accounts for much of its money and yet starting on May 15, 2015 most countries (including the US, Canada, EU, etc) that could receive a Visa on Arrival will now have to get a visa from an Egyptian Embassy beforehand. I'm not sure if that also includes the Sinai - where citizens of the US, Israel and the EU can get a visa at the border valid only for the Sinai. If your economy depends heavily on tourism and you have some very cool and interesting sites then you should open yourself to the world and not restrict yourself. I don't know what will happen with regards to Egypt in general, but I am very interested in seeing next week's episode when they go to Sarajevo. I've never been to Sarajevo, but did go to other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro and met; Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and Montenegrians.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Airlines Scramble

From Yahoo:
"Airlines to require 2 crew members in cockpit at all times"
Airlines and officials around the world on Thursday began requiring two crew members to always be present in the cockpit, after details emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit and deliberated crashed the plane into the mountains below.
Leading European budget airlines Norwegian Air Shuttle and EasyJet, along with Air Canada, say they will now require a minimum of two crew members in the cockpit while a plane is in the air. A group representing Germany's biggest airlines, including Lufthansa and Air Berlin, say they plan similar rules. German Aviation Association spokeswoman Christine Kolmar said the plan will be presented to German aviation authorities on Friday and the airlines will implement it "as soon as possible." Canada's government also issued an immediate order requiring two crew members to be in the flight deck at all times. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said the government is reviewing all policies and procedures and is watching the situation in Europe closely. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, U.S. airlines revamped their policies regarding staffing in the cockpit. But the procedure is not standard in Europe or Canada.  According to U.S. rules, whenever the cockpit door is open, flight attendants create a barrier between the cockpit and passengers. Typically, that is done with a beverage cart but some jets are outfitted with a mesh wire barricade. If a pilot leaves to use the bathroom, one of the flight attendants takes his or her seat in the cockpit. Some European airlines, like Finnair and Czech national airline CSA, operate under similar procedures. But many did not prior to Tuesday's Germanwings crash, which killed all 150 people aboard. European investigators said Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz barricaded himself inside the cockpit of the Airbus jetliner and deliberately crashed it into a mountainside, killing all 150 passengers and crew aboard.
Norwegian spokeswoman Charlotte Holmbergh-Jacobsson said the new rules will be adopted "as soon as possible" on all commercial flights globally. She said that the airline's security department had been thinking about the measure "for a while, and today decided on it." Air Canada, Canada's largest airline, said it will implement its change "without delay" the policy change. The country's other airlines, Westjet and Transat, also said it would make the change immediately. Porter airlines said it policy has always been to have at least two crew in the flight deck at all times. EasyJet said its new rules will take effect Friday.

^ I guess sometimes the world needs to follow the US' example. Had they then it is likely that the Germanwings plane wouldn't have crashed killing all 150 people onboard. I guess Germanwings and their parent-airline Lufthansa are more concerned with going on strike than they are the safety of their passengers, I flew Germanwings last December to/from Munich and Dortmund and the experience was confusing to say the least. Their web check-in didn't work and their boarding procedure was weird. I also flew Lufthansa last December (in between their numerous strikes) and didn't care for it. These two airlines (and all the other airlines that don't already) need to do more to protect their passengers and make sure their flight crews and pilots focus on their job rather than themselves (and always striking.) The fact that Germanwings didn't know that the co-pilot had been to doctors and had depression and other issues shows a bigger issue that needs to be address. It should be mandatory for doctors, specialists, etc to disclose diseases or depression to the state authorities for anyone that has a job where they are in charge of people and their safety. That includes: pilots, flight crews, soldiers, policemen, firemen, doctors, nurses, train and subway crews, etc. I'm not saying every personal detail should be disclosed but the ones that would directly affect a person's ability to do their job - like depression. World airlines have had 14 years since 9/11 to create more secured cock-pits and planes and it seems that the majority have really lapsed with the result of innocent people being killed. ^


Indiana Hate

From Yahoo:
"Hundreds rally against Indiana law, say it's discriminatory"

Hundreds of people, some carrying signs reading "no hate in our state," gathered Saturday outside the Indiana Statehouse for a boisterous rally against a new state law that opponents say could sanction discrimination against gay people  Since Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Local officials and business groups around the state hope to stem the fallout, although consumer review service Angie's List said Saturday that it is suspending a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law. Pence told the Indianapolis Star Saturday that he has been in touch with legislative leaders and expects another bill will be introduced this coming week to "clarify the intent" of the law. He declined to provide details but said making gay and lesbian residents a protected legal class is "not on my agenda." The governor and other supporters of the law contend discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. They also maintain that courts haven't allowed discrimination under similar laws covering the federal government and 19 other states. But state Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat, said Indiana's law goes further than those laws and opens the door to discrimination. "This law does not openly allow discrimination, no, but what it does is create a road map, a path to discrimination," he told the crowd, which stretched across the south steps and lawn of the Statehouse. "Indiana's version of this law is not the same as that in other states. It adds all kinds of new stuff and it moves us further down the road to discrimination."  The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses and associations. Angie's List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis' City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. But founder and CEO Bill Oseterle said in a statement Saturday that the expansion was on hold "until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees." Saturday's crowd, for which police didn't have an exact estimate, chanted "Pence must go!" several times and many people held signs like "I'm pretty sure God doesn't hate anyone" and "No hate in our state." Zach Adamson, a Democrat on Indianapolis' City-County Council, said to cheers that the law has nothing to do with religious freedom but everything to do with discrimination. "This isn't 1950 Alabama; it's 2015 Indiana," he told the crowd, adding that the law has brought embarrassment on the state.

^ It seems no one (not even the Governor) completely understands what the new law is supposed to be about. There is no need for a law in any state or country that allows a person or business to refuse service to someone because of their gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. It should only be "No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service" and other than creating a disturbance in a business everyone should be allowed to go anywhere they want to. ^


Friday, March 27, 2015

Teachers Against Disabled

From DS:
"Teachers Fight Special Needs Accommodation"

A teachers group is fighting a plan to allow a student with a disability to use a faculty restroom, all because they say the accommodation violates their right to exclusive facilities. Eighteen teachers — including two special educators — signed a petition filed alongside a union grievance after administrators opted to allow a student at Park Elementary School near Pittsburgh to use the faculty restroom, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The student has a physical limitation, school officials say, which makes it difficult for the child to climb stairs needed to access the student facilities. The school’s bottom floor does not have a student restroom nor is there elevator access. Teachers at the school argue the plan violates a provision of their contract stating that the school will provide “lavatory facilities exclusively for employees’ use.” School officials, however, say the building has other faculty-only restrooms and the district has an obligation to “meet the needs of students with disabilities.” The Steel Valley school board voted unanimously Thursday night to deny the teachers’ grievance and allow the student to use the faculty restroom, the Post-Gazette reports.

^ I am glad the school board denied these 18 teachers' request. They (the teachers)  are clearly self-centered, bigots who only care about themselves rather then the children they are supposed to be teaching. The fact that there are other faculty-only restrooms they could use while the disabled student only has the ability to use the one in question makes me disgusted. If I had a child (disabled  or not) with one of these 18 teachers I would remove them from their class.  I wouldn't want one of these arrogant,  lazy, anti-disabled people to teach my child their horrible ways. I hope the school board or the State Education Department looks more closely into these 18 teachers (especially the 2 special educators) to see if there are any other ways they are working to harm the children in their school. I can't imagine how the kid with disabilities is feeling knowing that there are 18 so-called educators (some which he/she may have - especially the special educators) that have fought against him/her merely because they are too lazy to use another faculty-only restroom. There is a special place in hell for these kind of people (people in authority who abuse that power for their own good.) ^


Falklands Help

From the BBC:
"Britain to boost Falklands Islands defences"

Britain will spend £280m over the next 10 years on renewing and beefing up its defences of the Falkland Islands.  Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC "any future and possible threats" to the islands had to be taken into account. The long-running dispute over the British overseas territory has been heightened in recent years. Mr Fallon said the government was committed to protecting the islanders' "right to remain British". Britain is to deploy two RAF Chinook transport helicopters to help the islands' garrison to help mount a "swift and decisive response" to any "emerging incidents," Mr Fallon told MPs. In a Commons statement, Mr Fallon said a review of the islands' defences had found they were "broadly proportionate" to the current threat level - and personnel levels would remain at about 1,200.  But he said the government would be installing an enhanced communications system at the military headquarters at Mount Pleasant as well as putting in place plans to replace the Rapier air defence missiles when they go out of service at the end of the decade. And he announced a new primary school and better accommodation for UK personnel station on the islands. He also confirmed the government's commitment to maintaining a Falkland Islands patrol vessel - currently HMS Clyde - while investing £180m over the next 10 years upgrading the infrastructure including harbour facilities and fuel infrastructure. He added: "The review we have undertaken confirms our commitment to the Falkland Islands. We will continue to defend the right of the islanders to determine their future and defend their way of life against whatever threats may arise.
"This review ensures we will continue to have the right mix of people, equipment and infrastructure to deliver that commitment in the years ahead."  He added: "I know the House will want to join me in paying tribute to our brave men and women, military and civilian, who leave behind their families and friends for months or years at a time in order to ensure the rights of the Falkland Islanders." It comes amid reports in the Sun newspaper that Russia is planning to lease 12 long-range bombers to the government in Buenos Aires, raising fears they could be used to support a renewed attack. Argentina lays claim to the islands, which it calls the Malvinas, but Mr Fallon said the claim had "no basis in international law" and should be withdrawn.  But he said the threat from Argentina remained and said the government's job was to "protect the islands and particularly the right of the islanders to remain British". In 2013, Falkland Islanders took part in a referendum, voting by 1,513 to three to remain a British overseas territory.

^ The British have the right to defend their territory (and the majority of the people on the Falkland Islands voted to remain British.) If the reports of Russian military aid to Argentina are right then it will be another area where Russia is working to destabilize the world (ie the Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.) There are also reports that Chechnya (which is also ruled locally by a dictator that imposes his brand of extremism on his people - while working closely with Moscow) wants to give weapons to Mexico to help them fight against the US. I don't know what history or current events  books the Russians and Chechens have been using, but they seem to be working from very old ones that have no basis in reality today. The Falkland Islands War of the 1980s helped destroy the military dictatorship in Argentina and it would be very stupid to try another invasion/occupation and go backwards rather than forwards. ^


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hidden History

From Yahoo:
"List of 15 Auschwitz inmates found in Polish school library"

Historians at the Auschwitz memorial and high school officials in central Poland are trying to determine how a list of 15 Polish and Jewish inmates of the Nazi death camp made it into a school library book. A typewritten page, stained, with edges burnt was found last month inside a 1923 Polish book on the history of warfare, during a library stock-taking at the 2nd Lyceum in Lodz, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the former camp. "We have no idea how or when it came to be in this book," school director Jadwiga Ochocka told The Associated Press. Auschwitz museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told the AP on Wednesday that historians have no doubt it is authentic, but will still submit it to tests to confirm that. Sawicki said the find is the more precious for the fact that the Nazis burned most of Auschwitz archives when they were readying to evacuate the camp in January 1945.
"The burn marks suggest it was there to the end and was planned for burning," Sawicki said. Dated May 21, 1941 it bears the names of inmates brought to Auschwitz that day from Lodz, Poznan and Katowice. The same names are on a longer list, of 28 inmates brought in that day, which is held in the museum's archives. According to historians, eight of the inmates on the list died in Auschwitz. Two Poles — Czeslaw Fratczak and Boleslaw Kita —survived the war but have since died. The fate of five, including a Polish Jew and a German, remains unknown. They are Adalbert (Wojciech) Goldberg from Poznan, inmate number 15621; Kurt Mueller from Poznan, number 15620; Marian Kobiak from Poznan, number 15619; Jan Mironski from Lodz, number 15632; and Zygmunt Domagala from Lodz, number 15637.

^ It is always interesting to find any original document from a historical event. Finding it in a library book or in some other random place is interesting in itself. How did it get there and who put it there? ^


Realm Discriminates

People have asked me about expanding on an earlier entry so I thought I would. I wrote about how the Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has to be a Protestant and how that constitutes a lack of freedom of religion for the whole UK. I stand-by that statement. It is the truth, but there are more countries (all in the Commonwealth of Nations) that have the same open religious discrimination. They are the 16 Commonwealth Realms. A Commonwealth Realm is part of the 53 country Commonwealth of Nations, but these 16 realms have Queen Elizabeth II as their own Queen. That means that Queen Elizabeth II is considered the Queen of the United Kingdom when she represents the UK at home or overseas, but that when she is working as head of one of the Commonwealth Realms she is considered the Queen of that country. An example is when Queen Elizabeth II is giving her Royal Ascent to an act of the Canadian Parliament she is called the Queen of Canada. The 16 Realms are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and of course the United Kingdom.
Each of the Commonwealth Realms has agreed to the lines of succession. So what is the requirement for the Queen/King of the United Kingdom is also the requirement for the Queen/King of Canada, Australia, etc. In 2013 the Succession to the Crown Act was passed in each of the Realms. While the Act gave females equality in the line of succession it continues to openly discriminate against any non-Protestant. That means that the Monarch of any of the Commonwealth Realms has to be a Protestant - thus each Realm is officially stating that Protestantism is the favorite and preferred religion in each of those countries and so Protestants (the followers of Protestantism) are the favorite and preferred people in each of those countries. Giving this preferred status to Protestants officially alienates every other religion and the followers of that religion in these countries. That doesn't mean that Catholics, Jews, etc are being rounded-up or burned at the stake anymore, but it does mean that there is an official "glass ceiling" that continues to exist for non-Protestant men and women to be the Head of State (ie the Monarch) of the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc while Protestant men and, now, women can achieve that position. Some people think that the Monarch is merely a symbol and has no real powers yet he/she has to give their Royal Ascent to any bill that any of the Realm's parliaments wants to pass. That seems like a pretty big say in things and while it is usually only a point of "rubber stamping" the Monarch can chose not to sign the act. I am a Canadian citizen (which makes me a Commonwealth citizen) and do not approve of Canada having an official state religion. I think Canada being a Constitutional Monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its Head of State is a good thing, but the "position" should be open to Protestants and non-Protestants alike. If Protestant men and women now have equal status in the line of succession then why not Catholic or Jewish men and women?  Canada (and most of the other Realms) claim they are free and democratic societies with freedom of religion yet how can you be free when you openly and officially discriminate against anyone non-Protestants? You can't. This open discrimination has lead to violence and killings (in the 30 year Troubles in Northern Ireland with the British Government - ie Protestants -  and the Irish Protestants denying basic civil rights to the Irish Catholics) and also to centuries of distrust and open discrimination between the Canadian Government (ie Protestants) and the Roman Catholic Quebecois. You can not expect people of different religions to live and thrive among each other when their Government officially claims they are not worthy of leading their own country. They have become second-class citizens the same black people in the American South up until the 1960s or in Apartheid South Africa were. To truly be a free, democratic and open society the Head of State/ Monarch needs to be open to men and women of any religion.

Russian Routes

From the MT:
"Russian Airlines Axing Over 70 International Routes"

Russian airlines are axing more than 70 international routes as the country struggles with a severe economic downturn, the RBC news agency reported Tuesday.  Transaero and UTair are getting rid of the most routes — 19 each — the report said, citing an official at Russia's air transportation watchdog Rosaviatsia.  The ruble has lost about 40 percent of its value versus the euro and U.S. dollar over the past year due to a fall in oil prices and Western sanctions over the country's meddling in Ukraine. A sharp decline in tourism brought on by the economic downturn means that many international air routes are no longer profitable, leading the airlines to request their cancellation. The Transportation Ministry is reportedly set to review the requests by the end of this month. While a few flights out of Moscow and St. Petersburg are among the proposed cancellations,  Russia's provincial capitals will be hit the hardest, with several including Yekaterinburg and Samara set to lose routes to popular tourist hot spots such as Barcelona and Dubai.  The ruble's plummet has hit the tourism industry hard, with tourism out of Russia falling between 50 and 70 percent this year, Russian Tourism Industry Union spokeswoman Irina Tyurina told The Moscow Times this week. Last year saw a spate of travel agencies go bankrupt, and earlier this month Swiss International Air Lines and Icelandair decided to halt routes out of St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport.

^ The self-isolation continues. ^